Water deficit in the soil and periodic droughts are threats that can be the limiting factor for securing forage production in many dairy farms in Poland, especially in the Wielkopolska region. The problem is particularly serious in farms producing feeds on grasslands localized on light soils.
The Andrzej Szulc farm in Mikołajewo due the very light and permeable soils have been struggling with this problem since ever but have developed solutions that allow the farm to produce milk on a very high level. To secure the forage production, the farmer decided to install an irrigation system that can be used for temporary grassland and other arable crops. He has decided to install a ramp-transferred semi-automatic irrigation system that is less labour-intensive and generates less maintenance costs during the operation. Thanks to this investment, the forage production can be independent from the water soil conditions and it allowed the use of new grass mixtures containing high-yielding species and varieties, mainly Italian and hybrids ryegrasses. The analysis highlighted that there is a need to implement actions to increase soil water retention or implement investments in active irrigation systems. Concerning the use of new grass and legume species and varieties that are more suitable for grassland during period of soil water deficit, farmers need to take into consideration the risk of water deficiency during the establishment of leys and carefully and wisely choose seed mixtures that will be a compromise between reducing the level of forage production and better resistance of grasses and legumes to drought. A good example could be a mixture of lucerne with smooth-leafed tall fescue.
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